Tag Archives: Branding

How to Get More Value Out of Your Marketing Message

Town cryer proclaiming his message

We had an interesting experience the other day.  It was a beautiful late Summer day in the midwest, really one of those spectacularly blue sky, low humidity, light breeze kind of days that is the main reason we live in this part of the country.  We were doing one of our favorite things, visiting a local art fair.  As we walked around, saying to ourselves over and over again that we were not going to spend money no matter what, we came upon an artist who works with glass and sure enough, got pulled in.  His work was really unique and quite beautiful.  We saw a vase that we both instantly fell for and asked what the price was.  Perhaps we gave a look of disappointment or disbelief, I don’t know, but just as soon as he quoted a price, he offered to discount it.  Frankly, neither of us thought his price was too high because the vase was beautiful and we loved it.  It was certainly more than we wanted to spend but it was absolutely a fair price for this unique piece.  What was also curious, this artist was selling his glass work.  We had to wait while he completed another transaction, so we couldn’t justify his diminishing the value of his work based on a lack of sales.  He must have struggled with this.

This led me to think about how challenging it is to place a value on any marketing effort we make.  It’s funny how there are these two little people influencing us, one sitting on each shoulder and whispering in our ear, but the two voices are the opposite of each other.  One of those little people is stoking our fears, that whatever message we put out there, it won’t resonate with our target market because the economy is just too bad.  The other is saying, oh, this is so brilliant people will love us and we’ll be flooded with leads dying to buy our products or hire our services.  Fear versus hubris, right.

You know that the reality is really somewhere in between, I don’t have to tell you that.  But it is difficult to place a value on the message you put out there.  At best, you want that message to prompt some action, ideally a conversation, that allows you to engage and form a trust-based relationship that will likely culminate in a purchase.  The more “conversations” you are having, the higher value you can place on that message.

If you follow these guidelines for every marketing message you do, I believe it should help improve that message’s value:  (taken from Roman Hiebing, Jr. and Scott Cooper in “The Successful Marketing Plan”)

  1. Who: Who are you talking to?
    1. Discuss the target market’s fears, joys, how they purchase and how by buying from you it answers these.
  2. Point:  What is your point?
    1. The point has to be an insightful way to communicate your message always writing in the voice or style of the target market without industry jargon
  3. Word:  What is the one key word in the point?
    1. Only one word, one idea.  Is it Experience?  Is it Value?  Is it Respect?
  4. Care:  Why should I care?
    1. It has to pass two tests, What’s in if for Me? and So What? This has to be brief and it must be the reasons that come from your target market
  5. Believe:  Why should I believe you?
    1. You are making a promise.  I expect that you can accomplish the minimum requirements however, what unexpected promise do you bring? Is it believable? You should include four reasons.
  6. Feel:  How should I feel?
    1. What emotion should be felt after seeing or reading your communication?
  7. Do:  What am I supposed to do?
    1. This is the Call-to-Action.  It should be very specific and intuitive.  This is also how you measure the communication in terms of its effectiveness, relevance and pay-back.

The bottom line:  Above and beyond anything else, your message and its value can only be determined by what it does to your bottom line.  Does it cause the fundamental behavior we’re all looking for, the decision to buy!

I’d love to hear your comments

Just a note, for any of you that were curious, yes, we did buy that beautiful vase.


The CMO Outsource

Be Transparent In Your Advertising and Promotion

I had recently been doing research for a client and found an organic Google listing on the Search Engine Results page from Amazon.com, it was the third listing.  Specifically I was looking for industry information on the heating and air conditioning business and was enticed by what I read “Plumbing and HVAC Industry Report.”  Knowing that Amazon was a trusted source I clicked.

When I got to the amazon.com page to order this, I found it was a downloadable PDF and there was the cover page for me to view.  This looked like exactly what I wanted and I placed my order.

After the PDF downloaded, I opened the document, and on the cover page was some new information that hadn’t appeared previously on the order page.  It said, “Plumbing and HVAC Industry Report, Industry Breakdown: 1997 to 2001”

What?  How old is this information?  For anyone of you doing any kind of marketing research, you know that information that is nine or more years old is basically worthless.    I had just spent $24.95 for information that was so ancient, it should have been free.

I did the natural thing, I immediately tried to contact Amazon to inform them that this was not what I wanted and not to charge my card.  What I was amazed about was that there really is no customer service to speak of.  Amazon.com simply has a “Help” webpage of commonly asked questions.  Since this was a download, apparently I was unable to cancel the order.

My next step was to contact my credit card company to dispute the charge.  After investigating, they wrote and said that “no error was found” in the disputed transaction with Amazon Digital Services and that “the disputed transaction has been credited to your account and absorbed as a loss by the bank.”

Well, I’m not out any money but why in the world should my bank absorb this loss?  This was Amazon’s lack of advertising honesty.

My question is this: If I received this kind of service and lack of transparency in the small transaction I experienced with Amazon, why would I take a chance in buying a “Kindle?”  Frankly, Amazon needs all the help it can get competing with Apple’s IPad.

So, when you promote products or advertise services, whether online or in a store, be sure to be transparent and tell the whole truth.  Otherwise you can end up reading blogs like this that have a tendency to spread very quickly and the old brand takes a big hit.

Have you had any experiences like this?  Let me know.



The CMO Outsource

Do You Mean It When You Ask?

Windup robot

My wife and I were talking the other evening about an interesting customer service idiosyncrasy we’ve both noticed at our local grocery store.  When we are finished shopping and we go to checkout, regardless of which cashier is helping us, they universally begin with the question, “Did you find everything you were looking for?”   Happens every time without fail.  It’s a great thought, however we have realized that these employees are simply reciting a question they were ordered to ask.  There is no genuine feeling behind it, it’s simply something they’ve been told to do, much as a computer that has been programmed to auto-respond.

We’ve even had some fun with this.  After the question and contrary I believe to most responses, I answer, “No.”  At least half the time, the cashier proceeds as if nothing had happened.  The other times I get this incredulous look and the witty riposte of , “What, oh, well, uh, I, don’t, uh, well, uh, hmmm.”  (Does not compute!)

I truly believe that the intent behind this effort is to provide excellent customer service, to show the caring side of the grocery store, and to make me feel welcomed.  Unfortunately, when it is not a genuine concern, and in this case it is apparent, then it fails in its intention.

Do you have customer service contact employees that are just going through the motions, that are just reciting lines out of a manual like an automaton?  Is the culture of your company such that this type of behavior is rewarded?  If so then your company’s brand is also reflecting this lack of authenticity, a lack of genuine caring for your customer.  It may take time, but it will affect your ability to grow and achieve your sales goals.

In Seth Godin’s book Linchpin-Are You Indispensable? he speaks of company cultures that encourage and reward behavior that simulates an assembly line, where employees are expected to do exactly as the manual dictates and not to have any original thought.  The problem, as he states, is that once this behavior is engrained, it is difficult to break away from.  Just as employees who act as robots are inexpensive and easy to replace, so your customers will also find other sources for what you do or sell.

So, do you mean it when you ask?

I would love to know your thoughts.


The CMO Outsource

If I Only Had 24 Hours, I Would……….

As the spring has now quietly melded into the summer months, many familiar things begin to happen, not the least of which is the appearance of the fireflies or lightning bugs as they are sometimes referred to.  As dusk settles in, these lowly creatures begin their mating journey, coming up out of the grass and immediately signaling their arrival with that yellowish-green pulse of light.  It almost seems as if they are working in concert, as there are so many flying up from the ground and in synchronous tempo, they flash together.  It is sad to know that the male of this species has but 24 hours to find a suitable mate in order to procreate. Talk about motivation!

It is also true with the near perfect hibiscus flower.  This flower is truly one of the most spectacular and perfectly formed flowers with vibrant colors, large pedals and prominent pistil and stamen.  It is a joy to see these large, beautiful blooms, but sadly, as soon as the sun goes down, the blooms of the day fold up and are through, never to open again.  Just one day to show their glory.

What would you do if you knew you only had one day, 24 hours to impress the world.  How would you catch the eye of your prospective customer?  What lasting impression would you leave that would make you unforgettable?  How would you want them to remember you?

Many times when you reach out with your marketing communications, you have one shot, just one chance to leave a lasting impression.  What may seem unimportant or trivial may have a significant impact.  An employee saying the wrong thing or writing a disparaging remark on the wall of their Facebook page could cause unforeseen problems and is all the more reason to have established social guidelines for your employees.

If you had 24 hours, how would you use your special skills to change the world?

If you always have the frame of mind that you get but one chance with a prospective customer, the way you market your company will take on a new importance, it can be an opportunity to have an impact on a life, and be the chance to show your glory.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


The CMO Outsource

I Am Unique; Just Like Everyone Else

I recently read an article in the National Geographic about how the United Nations has declared that 2010 be the International Year of Biodiversity.  In conjunction with this recognition, scientists are now using the simple bar code that we all see on packages we purchase and that are scanned, to assist in the classification of the over 1.7 million species already named on Earth.  Each bar is comprised of 600-odd spots that can be filled by any of four different DNA bases, and that two species will rarely have the exact same sequence.  Already they have coded nearly 40,000 species of moth and butterfly and the hope is that they will have 500,000 species coded by 2015.

Is it possible to bar code your company?  The answer is yes.

There are no two businesses that are exactly alike even though they may be tenacious competitors. The “DNA” that comprises each company can be uniquely identified and categorized to illustrate what its essential “brand” is.

Why is this important?

This is the process by which you can identify the unique strengths that you have that no one else has, and it is those strengths that can then make up the marketing message that you communicate.  Your uniqueness will also be recognized by your community, the individuals in your social sphere who understand and appreciate what it is about you that makes you unique.  They will be the messengers who bring light to your “DNA” and make it known to those who may not recognize your uniqueness.  It is the essence of who you are and the value you bring to the world and it should be identified and brought to the attention of every employee you have, so they can also help in communicating what it is that makes you unique.  It is your differentiator.

Isn’t it time to bar code your company?  The answer is yes and the time is now.

I’d be interested in knowing whether anyone has gone through this process with their company.  Comment below and let me know.


The CMO Outsource